PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

Grade 5 Media Literacy – week of 11/19

Art and Appropriation v Music Sampling and Copyright Infringement: What’s the Difference?

Conversation was robust this week in Media Literacy about the use of intellectual property and copyright. 5th grade discussed DJ’s sampling of music and whether or not they agree if it should be allowed. Some interesting connections were made, specifically in the realm of art. As heard from some of the class discussion:

“Paint is used to paint a picture, and the artist signs his name when done, but does the artist give credit to the paint company for the paint used to create the art?” ~ Olympia Reid

An equally interesting rebuttal:

“Paint is an ingredient that the artist uses to create the art, but the art is original. Just like an instrument is used to make music…” ~ Sean Takahashi

Taking a look at pop art artist, Andy Warhol, students were asked to consider if the artists’ use of others’ intellectual property is legal. We looked at Warhol’s most famous works: Campbell’s Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe, pictured below, and both on exhibition at The MoMA.

Students hypothesized about free publicity being a factor to the use of Warhol’s appropriated work – in particular his soup series – but were unsure about the photographer’s feelings on the appropriation of the Marilyn Monroe photograph used to create the iconic, colorful screen prints.

More to come on that as we have some students for the class researching if there has ever been any lawsuits brought on by companies or photographers against Warhol. In the meantime, the Revolver Gallery site can immediately quench your curiosity.

The point being, is one use more legal than the other? Some argue that sampling of music, most prominent in hip hop culture, is just as transformative as the high-brow art found in galleries around the world. What’s your interpretation?